A United Premier Soccer League playoff game was abandoned after a referee assault in Maryland on Saturday, the latest in a long line of referee abuse stories.
A player from Mass United had been shown a red card, and a member of the club’s coaching staff punched the referee.
UPDATE: The league released a statement condemning the incident and vowing to stand with its referees.
The match between Mass United and World Class Premier FC (Maryland) was a Northeast Championship match, and would send a winner to the UPSL’s national finals in Miami.
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The match was tied at 1 around halftime when the referee stopped play after a foul led to a skirmish between players.
According to a source, the referee mistakenly removed a red card from his pocket when he meant to show a yellow. Before the referee could correct himself, an assistant coach punched him in the face. The game was abandoned and the win awarded to World Class Premier.
The UPSL is considered to be the fifth-tier of the American Soccer Pyramid and is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association.
Referees in Berlin protested increased incidents of violence earlier this year, while Franck Ribery and Neymar have both been suspended for making contact with officials. In 2014, an American referee was killed after a player punched him in the face after a red card incident. The player was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Here’s how it looked from the local angle in Maryland, with The Montgomery County Sentinel reporter Carlos Alfaro Rodriguez on scene. He confirmed the incident with ProSoccerTalk.
Update: the referee was punched in the face. It looks like the game is over
— Carlos Alfaro Rodriguez (@carlosalfarorod) December 14, 2019